Grafton (Truefitt & Hill)

Everyone's nose is different, and while some smell Grafton cologne as being similar to things like Rive Gauche and Égoïste, I smell a clumsy reinterpretation of YSL Jazz in this quiet little aromatic fougère. The funny thing about Jazz is that it used to cost less than Grafton, but now that it's been discontinued, reissued, and discontinued again, the more stalwart Grafton is now the bargain of the two. Go figure.

The differences are obvious, however. Where Jazz is tighter, more lucid, and more closely focused on the aromatics that comprise its crisp fougère accord, Grafton inhabits the laid-back mould of barbershop fougère, with brighter green notes of citrus and stemmy florals on top, followed by a dustier coriander-spice midsection, before it settles on an extremely dry woody amber that acts like a snooty glorified aftershave rather than a properly realized upscale fragrance. Longevity is middling, note separation is just okay, and the whole affair makes me want to reach for Jazz to energize things. 

Between Grafton and JF, I've come to think of the Brits as being relatively clueless about perfumery compared to the French. British compositions seem unoriginal, and the quality isn't where it should be. Geo F. Trumper's colognes are an exception, although even those could be better. Perhaps it's why Luca Turin had nary a good thing to say about English perfumes in The Guide. Genius in perfumery is clearly not found in London. 


A Brief Note on Decanting Pinaud's Lilac Vegetal

About a year ago I decanted my entire supply of Lilac Vegetal into a glass bottle I'd purchased from Home Goods, in an attempt to eliminate the funky plastic off-notes that haunt its otherwise-pristine beauty. I'd had pretty good luck doing this with Clubman, which goes from a cheap-smelling powdery fougere to a beautifully soft and elegant citrus musk within two months of decanting. I figured it was worth a try with Lilac Vegetal, which suffers much more than Clubman does in regards to off-gassing (the unfortunate leeching of plastic odorants into alcohol-based fragrances). 

I shaved the other day, and found myself with a choice between two lilac waters. Bear in mind that I also own a full vintage 1960s glass bottle of LV, which contains mostly unused fragrance that smells as new as the day it was made. The differences between the vintage and new stuff are unmistakable, as the former possesses a sweet and powdery ambergris aura that is entirely missing from the plastic-bottled version. Now that I've decanted and let sit, I was eager to see if the newer formula's pesky urine-like plastic problem had dissipated, or if it is as die-hard as the internet chatter says it is. 

To my surprise, the result is inconclusive. I figured it would hew one way or the other, but it's entirely possible that I haven't given it enough time. While it smells significantly better than it did in plastic, with a fresher and more floral profile, and much more of that powdery ambergris-like base, there's still a hint of plastic tainting the lilac note. It's fainter and far less intrusive than it used to be, and I'm hoping that another six months in glass (with air in the bottle) will improve things further. One can certainly make the argument that Lilac Vegetal improves when decanted into glass. 

Even if the plastic note doesn't disappear entirely, it has diminished down to a far less noticeable degree. The trick with Pinaud's products is to decant them into quality glass that allows aeration without evaporation - a tight seal is necessary. My bottle came with a pretty good cork. You could experiment and mix with witch hazel to see if that cuts the plastic note, but I'll wait on that. Lilac Vegetal is a delicate floral scent with a powder-puff cushiony drydown, pure heaven for a wetshaver, and it should be decanted if it's to be enjoyed at its best. I'll update on this later in the year.


JF (Floris)

Floris is one of those oddball brands that are nearly impossible to purchase, not for scarcity, but for value. Here in Connecticut there aren't any brick and mortar stores with a Floris counter. Can't sample 'em. This makes Floris a blind buy by default (unless you pay Luckyscent), which brings me to price: eighty for a 1.7 oz, and over a hundred (well over) for a 3.4 oz. Their reputation is stale, with little in the way of accolades or press beyond fond memories of older guys championing No. 89 in the days when brands like Czech & Speake and Maître Parfumeur et Gantier were all the rage.

For the hefty dollar it commands, I expected JF, one of their aged masculines, to smell a few leagues better than its competition. I chose a 1.7 oz bottle because it's a familiar brief aimed at stealing a slice of Cool Water's pie. I also had the edge of a gift card from Neiman Marcus, and forked over a small fraction of the price for my bottle - the only way I'd ever buy one. I've been wanting to write about a Floris frag for ten years, making this post past-due. So what's my opinion of JF? I'll keep it simple: it's overpriced and nothing special. Hold out for a gift card to buy it, or else just forget it. It's a disappointment. 

Ingredient quality? Designer, albeit high-end designer. Strength? Average. Longevity? Decent. Compositional prowess? Eh. Here's the shocking truth about JF: it smells like vintage Aspen (1998 Aspen) for about five minutes, then shuffles sleepily into vintage Cool Water (1993 Cool Water) in the twenty-five minute drydown. If you're familiar with the aforementioned, you know exactly how JF smells, which is to say it's fine, but it's nothing new and interesting. Only vintage Davidoff fanatics could love it. Still, I appreciate the novelty of hearing "Rule, Britannia!" every time I depress the atomizer.